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Theory of Change of DID HK LIMITED

A Scoping Study March 2014

Susanna Chui

Cnetre for Human Resources Strategy and Development Hong Kong Baptis University

Table of Contents












Executive Summary

The DIDHK’s Story from experimentation to continuous innovation


About Author

Background and Objectives

Research Design


What is Theory of Change? Why is it important?

Results and Analysis



Acknowledgments This report was prepared by Susanna Chui, researcher at the Centre for Human Resource Strategy and Development at Hong Kong Baptist University and is now pursuing her PhD study at Durham University in the United Kingdom. Theory of Change – A Scoping Study | 5

Executive Summary ‘Social entrepreneurs . . . seek to change the ethos within which people live and work and create paradigm shifts. They seek to initiate change at a number of different levels at the same time, thus creating momentum.’ Andrew Mawson, ‘The Social Entrepreneur Making Communities Work’, 2008

Social enterprises seek to address social issues using business methods. The business interventions introduced, if successful, should create social impact and social change. The aim of this study is to facilitate the mapping out of the ‘Theory of Change’ at DIDHK in terms of the transformative effects they bring to stakeholders. The result will then pave the way for DIDHK to measure their social impact more effectively. DIDHK’s unique business model creates social value for a number of stakeholder groups. Those included in this study are the visually-impaired trainers, employees and corporate clients. The result of this scoping study shows that DIDHK is able to create social value through the experiential journeys they provide as their service offerings. These experiential service offerings are educational- and entertainmentrelated. They include experiential tours, workshops for groups, workshops for corporate training, cabaret in silence, dinner in the dark, birthday in the dark, yum cha in silence and concert in the dark. All of these service offerings have one unique characteristic – the core service delivery is put in the hands of the HI and VI staff community who is usually ‘perceived’ to have needs for support and care. On one hand, this unique business model can unleash the potential of the HI and VI communities working in an environment they feel most familiar with. It also allows those who have gone through the experiential journeys to appreciate the challenges VIs and HIs encounter in their daily life. As a result, both the social missions of i) employment for the VIs and HIs and ii) social cohesion can be achieved seamlessly within the experiential journeys. Moreover, stakeholder groups involved are found to be affected positively. What this study has unfolded are the outcomes DIDHK manages

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to bring to its key stakeholder groups, namely corporate clients, the VI and HI staff community and employees. The transformative effects are evidenced by interviews and surveys. The corporate clients who have gone through executive corporate training workshops experienced transformative learning and self reflection and showed changes in their attitude and behavior. The VI and HI trainers showed significant enhancement of self-efficacy and self-esteem. Other dimensions of enhancement include power of expression, self confidence, relations building, self-image, well-being, trust and happiness. General employees showed significant level of psychological empowerment and organization commitment. Some also reported improvement in self-confidence, relations building, trust and happiness.

In order to ascertain if the transformative impact can be sustained, this study has also explored possible organinsational factors at DIDHK that can facilitate its entrepreneurial and innovative nature. These characteristics are also essential for sustaining a new start-up. DIDHK has been awarded the ‘Outstanding Social Enterprise’ and received two ‘Innovation Awards’ for their different creative product offerings. These recognitions make it more worthwhile to study the internal operations at DIDHK. Upon exploring the internal context, a total of seven different factors, including its unique business model, leadership empowerment, a common social goal, staff diversity, its supportive organizational culture, opportunity-seeking orientation and staff’s strong learning motivation, are present at DIDHK in facilitating it to be an entrepreneurial social organization. It is important to appreciate that these factors are closely knitted and played out at DIDHK so that the totality can create outcomes more impactful than the sum of its parts. At DIDHK, its internal bottom-up energy, with the VI and HI staff community engaged in a core role in not only service delivery but also the innovative processes, is a very important driving force in creating a unique culture.

Therefore, DIDHK’s theory of change involves bringing transformative impacts to its key stakeholder groups. What this study has reported only involves its social impact at a micro level. The organization is recommended to explore, through further study, its social impact at a macro level in achieving social cohesion. Moreover, if DIDHK will continue to expand its collaborative partnerships, it is also recommended to find out its impact at a meso level by studying the reasons why organizations partner with DIDHK and the outcomes occurring at those organizations. This scoping study is just the beginning of mapping out the micro level social impact of DIDHK. If the road to social impact evaluation continues at DIDHK, it is expected to be a fruitful and rewarding one.

Story of Personal Transformation Mark (not his real name) said, “I have become less shy. With my current work at DIDHK, I have successfully walked out from my timid self and my loneliness. I start to get along with people and become braver. I didn’t know how to communicate with other people before and was afraid to do so. I was not articulate in doing so. Now I can do all these. It is actually an enhancement of my skills and personality. Another thing is the improvement of my English skills. I still remember my first English workshop. My client actually asked me to relax. Now I have become more confident and competent in conducting English workshops.”

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Background and Objectives

The idea of this report was born when its author was conducting a research project on leadership in Hong Kong social enterprises in 2013.

At an interview with the then General Manager, now

the Chief Executive Officer of DIDHK, it was understood that DIDHK was keen to measure its social impact. Since there was another study conducted during the same period for DIDHK on its social return on investment, this scoping study was offered, on a pro bono basis, to explore its social impact from a stakeholder perspective, using a missed method including an in-depth qualitative approach and surveys. It was conducted between April to December 2013 to explore the transformative effects being brought to the key DIDHK stakeholder groups. They are corporate clients, VI and HI trainers and employees. Based on the Theory of Change, which will be explained in the next chapter, the following objectives have been set for this study: 1. Explore evidence of the outcomes DIDHK has brought to their key stakeholder groups through their activities of service delivery and employment; 2. Examine the internal organisational factors that facilitate these desired outcomes to be maintained in a sustainable manner; and 3. Recommend specific theory of change so that DIDHK can track its progress in creditable and useful ways. This report does not claim to be a social impact measurement report of DIDHK but it is a study that establishes the theory of change which can lead to effective evaluation of the social value creation at DIDHK.

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What is Theory of Change? Why is it important?

According to Connell and Kubish (1998), the

theory of change approach for evaluating

community projects is ‘a systematic and cumulative study of the links between activities, outcomes, and contexts of the initiative.’

Much discussion on evaluation approaches for comprehensive community initiatives (CCIs) that

aim at bringing about social impact has been pursued as early as the 1980s (Chen & Rossi,

1989; Chen, 1990; Connell, Kubisch, Schorr & Weiss, 1995; Weiss, 1995, 1998, 2000; Schorr,

1997; Pawson & Tilley, 1997; Stame, 2004; Douthwaite et al, 2003; Donaldson, 2005; and Rogers, 2008).

These discussions were important in the

Therefore, three of these prominent propositions are provided for consideration. Chen and Rossi (1989): Theory-driven Evaluation Chen and Rossi were one of the first advocators who supported ‘theory-based’ evaluation. They described programmes with ‘unclear goals’ and measures as ‘black box’ programmes. They put out a manifesto proposing steps for evaluating community initiatives in terms of the effectiveness of intervention; treatment; stakeholders’





outcomes and how programmes fared as they progressed following theories. Carol Weiss (1995): Theory-based Evaluation (TBE)

history of developing evaluation for community






box’ community programmes which did not

be guiding the evaluation process.

stage of advocating evaluation of interventions

understanding. The two elements of theories of

outcomes and benefits. These propositions on

forecasts in a descriptive way the steps to be

social issues can benefit the measurement of

theory’, which hinges on the mechanisms that

initiatives because they have moved the ‘black

evaluation’ with ‘theories of change’ should

build in any evaluation measures to the current

theories take the form of assumptions and tacit

based on theories and explicit understanding of

change include ‘implementation theory’, ‘which

evaluating the effectiveness of interventions to

taken in the implementation’; and ‘programme

social impact in the social enterprise sector as

make things happen. According to Weiss, these

well because its essence is in the use of theorybased evaluation in measuring social value.


mechanisms are responses that activities can generate.

Theory of Change – A Scoping Study | 9

What is Theory of Change? Why is it important?

Pawson and Tilley (1997): Realistic Evaluation According to Pawson and Tilley, evaluation is based on i) context; ii) mechanism; and iii) outcomes. The realist approach

is based on a ‘generative’ theory of causality. Pawson and Tilley

believe that programmes do not make things change; people do. They believe that the evaluator should elaborate how the

mechanism work in a given context and stakeholders should provide evidence.

To sum up, Stame (2004) provided 4 considerations to explain why theory-oriented approaches are important.

1. ‘They base evaluation on an account of what may happen, as understood by actors and/or interpreted by evaluators: values are accounted for in the way they help frame the actors’ views, and are not ignored;

2. they consider programmes in their context, which

includes actors’ environments (embeddedness) and public service culture and behavior;

3. they utilise all methods that might be suitable, without

privileging any one of them, and without depending on them; and

4. they are clearly committed to internal validity (looking for causality).’

Therefore, with the above considerations, this study set out

to explore not only the transformative effects of the three key stakeholder groups, corporate clients, VI and HI staff community

and employees, it had explored the contextual/organizational

factors that facilitated an entrepreneurial social organization to thrive at DIDHK.

The following chapter will first layout the DIDHK’s story in four different stages before the report continues to unfold the research design, results, recommendation and conclusion.

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The DIDHK’s Story

- from experimentation to continuous innovation A timeline (see Table 1), based on the DIDHK’s Chief Executive Officer’s recollection of important events, newspaper articles and a book written by one of the DIDHK founders, was put together with the key milestones illustrating the dynamic business growth happening since its pilot run in 2009.

Table 1. Timeline of Organisational Major Milestones


• Site identified for opening in 2010

• Opening of DIDHK in its first location in February

Phase One – Times before financial breakeven DIDHK started with mobile workshops in 2009 to test the market and their business model. Much as DIDHK had attracted attention and sales revenue since 2009, the operation was still running at a loss financially six months into its opening at a fixed location in 2010 because of its high operational and maintenance costs. In 2010, DIDHK started having regular walk-in visitors, the revenue source was still struggling to cover the operational costs, not to say achieving financial break-even. The current CEO came on board in June 2010 while the two founders were still active in the operation. Although the then GM understood that the financial shortfall was normal as a new startup, he did not allow himself to be complacent and set himself the goal of seeking revenue increase not by himself but by providing the conditions to facilitate bottom-up dynamics. In an interview, he said that ‘we had no strategy but we tried everything in order to achieve financial viability.’ Identifying that the corporate workshops achieved higher profit margin, he mobilized two levels of members to act. First of all, he promoted one junior member of the sales team to head up the team as a manager and set sales target to be achieved. Secondly, he appealed to the Board to facilitate referral of potential corporate clients for the sales team to follow up on orders. ‘Opportunity tension’ was heightened at this stage because of the pressure of financial non-viability. Although the Board including the founders were not imposing an urgency of revenue increase,

• DIDHK launched in January 2009 as a mobile experiential experience provider without a fixed location and the executive training workshops were well received. With these successful pilot runs, the two founders started to locate a fixed rental location

• Financial breakthrough with the first monthly income exceeding expenditure achieved in July


• ‘Concert in the Dark’, the first concert performed in complete darkness in Hong Kong was organized. DIDHK collaborated with pop singers and musicians. Event sponsored by CSL, a mobile phone company • Sales of corporate training was driven up as the dominant revenue generator and started to sustain growth of DIDHK • Year-end loss for 2010 at HK$1,577,811 (DIDHK, 2013)

• Launch of Dialogue in Silence • DIDHK expanded beyond Hong Kong, serving multinational clients in China • Strategically expanding to China • ‘Concert in the Dark’ received ‘Innovation Award’


• ‘Concert in the Dark’ received ‘Outstanding Small Budget Campaign Award’ • Awarded ‘Outstanding Social Enterprise Award’ by Home Affairs Bureau, Hong Kong • Awarded ‘Talent-Wise Recruitment Excellent Award’ for promoting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities • Year-end profit for 2011 at HK$654,408 (DIDHK, 2013)

• Dialogue In Silence (DIS) further developed more products including ‘Silence Yum Cha (i.e. Having Tea in Silence)’ and started new silence workshops • Soul Searching: a rebranding exercise with the participation of the whole company realigning the staff’s understanding of its social mission and financial goals. The new mission statement ‘Engaging people of differences to create social impacts’ was created with refined social missions:


- Turn sympathy into empathy - Empower physically challenged to use their unique strengths and talents to live a beautiful life - Become a role model in inspiring more people to take positive actions to transform our world into a better one • Opening of ‘Dialogue Experience Square’ at Good Lab, a new venue of around 5,000 sq ft. • Cabaret in Silence, a new Dialogue in Silence entertainment product was first launched in October • Year-end profit for 2012 at HK$2,041,407 (DIDHK, 2013)

• Social impact measurement research projects were commissioned to provide for better communication of DIDHK’s social impact and increase transparency


• Impact investment and incubation of new businesses. Supported intrapreneurship with a VI Trainer created a new business start-up financially supported by DIDHK. • Launch of a social media partnership with CR2, a commercial radio station in Hong Kong to launch a joint venture programme • Suspension of the strategic expansion to China • ‘Dialogue in Silence’ received ‘Social Enterprise Award’ in the Innovation Category of the annual Social Enterprise Summit in Hong Kong

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The DIDHK’s Story


- from experimentation to continuous innovation seeing that it was a natural course of building up clientele, the then GM, still new in the organisation then turned the imbalance of the financial situation into a positive tension, putting different functional systems, such as the sales team, the Board and the educational team of the VIs, on the their toes and seeking for solutions to achieve financial stability. The result was almost imminent with the following month witnessing the income exceeding the expenditure in July 2010, although the financial break-even was not yet to be achieved until the end of the following year in 2011. Phase Two – Financial breakthrough followed by the onset of experimentation and new innovation through external collaboration In order to seek for more revenue sources, the small team at DIDHK of about 10 people including the two founders, since its formal inception in 2010, was constantly seeking for new products for experimentation including ‘Birthday in the Dark’ or ‘Dating in the Dark’. When the company came up with the concept of ‘Concert in the Dark’ and realized its potential of generating a sufficiently large audience, they started to look for collaborators in terms of singers and musicians. They successfully found a mobile phone operator to be a major sponsor as the corporation’s corporate social responsibility programme. This did not only allow the costs of the event to be absorbed and it started to witness the advantage of social capital and build up the momentum seeking for more corporate collaboration opportunities. ‘Concert in the Dark’ in itself was an innovation because this was the first live concert ever held in the dark putting all the musicians and singers in complete darkness. The success of the event on one hand helped DIDHK gain popularity, it also boosted the morale of the staff internally to continually seek innovation.

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Their satisfaction came from the complete ownership of the innovative idea and its successful implementation. Through interviews with the two team heads of the Education Team who were both visually impaired, they described the process of creating ‘Concert in the Dark’ as a continuous process of testing, experimentation and learning as there was no prior reference or people with the same experience. This was the process that helped both the Education and the Operation teams to reach a higher level of competence. Therefore, the impacts of DIDHK accomplished by the end of 2011 were achieved not only within but also with outside partners. The success of ‘Concert in the Dark’ was an experimentation only made possible by the bottom-up efforts of the VIs and performers. It was not a topdown instruction but coming from a new idea born from internal discussions and experimentation. Because of its pioneer nature, the birth of the event were born from non-linear interactions and working of different parties who were ready to enter an experiment. The result and its totality was an outcome that was unpredictably well received. Its success could not be broken evenly into the sum of these individual efforts because the making of the performance require closely-knitted working plans of all parties following paths, rules and prudence to allow the operation to take place without mistakes in complete darkness. In the mean time, DIDHK continued to attract volunteers to pour in both their time and their expertise to the enterprise because they trusted that their contribution would be meaningful in helping the visually-impaired and also finding that the enterprise was innovative and revolutionary in venturing into new attempts. This was the time when they attracted a creative designer who was interested to develop a new business opportunity with DIDHK.

That was the beginning of a new business group exploring on how to unleash the potential of the hearing-impaired community and therefore working on products based on using silence and body language as a form of expression. As a result, a new business arm Dialogue in Silence Workshop was brought to Hong Kong and was born in 2011. This represented a new business arm of the enterprise. The evolutability has been obvious at DIDHK while they thrived to seek innovation, their financial return was also raised. By the end of 2011, the enterprise achieved profitability of HK$654,408. DIDHK was also recognised for its performance by obtaining 4 different awards recognizing its performance in innovation, being a successful social enterprise and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities. Phase Three – Scaling up through consolidating resources In 2012, DIDHK took the venture to another new height through two major steps. One was the integration of the dark and silent experiences in their corporate executive workshops to maximize the learning for corporate trainees. At the same time, the Silence Experience continued to experiment to provide ‘entertaining’ products which could attract higher capacity of participants. Secondly, DIDHK opened a second location for their new ‘Dialogue Experience Square’. This allowed the corporate training workshops to take up more space and catered for a bigger capacity of participants.

Phase Four – Rebranding, repositioning and reporting its social impacts In the second quarter of 2012, DIDHK conducted a soul searching exercise by gathering all staff members together to orchestrate a re-branding exercise. They sought the opinions of all staff members in terms of the social mission, future direction and how to achieve the double bottom line. That paved the way for DIDHK’s rebranding and redefining their mission statement. They put more emphasis on empowering the physically challenged and broadening the enterprise’s social role to ‘inspire people to take positive actions to transform the world to a better one’ (DIDHK, 2013). The then GM described this as ‘a major realignment within the organization’ in an interview and he said that, ‘we could move forward with a common ground and a united goal’. The then GM was also aware of the importance of seeking feedback not only from within but also from different stakeholders. Therefore, he also commissioned two social impact project teams to start conducting research with the aim to collect views and also prepare to publish the performance not only from the enterprise’s perspective but also from a third party’s perspective. The then GM was trying to drive transparency and also to position DIDHK as a responsible enterprise within the sector. The DIDHK story is one that demonstrates innovation and constant dynamic internal drive towards goal accomplishment. Therefore, with the understanding of the organization, the research process also tried to understand the internal factors that facilitated such an entrepreneurial social organization to thrive.

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Research Design This study adopted a mixed method approach to explore in-depth and within the real-life context.

Sample Selection As this study was set to explore the theory of change brought about by DIDHK to the key stakeholder groups, three stakeholder groups, namely VIs and HIs; customers and employees were identified to initially explore the impacts on these individuals.

Data Source Data were collected from different sources: 1) surveys collected from VI and HI trainers, employees and the Management Team Heads; 2) 9 semi-structured interviews with the Management Team Heads; 3) 5 focus group interviews with clients who were corporate trainees of executive training workshops; 4) 9 semi-structured interviews with visuallyimpaired (VI) and hearing-impaired (HI) trainers; 5) 2 focus group interviews with employees; and 6) participatory observation through observation at 3 different workshops and 4 different events. The author also talked to participants of group tours as well as to the workshop facilitators to gauge a wider stakeholders’ perspective.

Quantitative data – Survey Empowering Leadership. Arnold and colleagues’ (2000) Empowering Leadership Questionnaire (ELQ), which is a 38-item measure empirically validated for measuring empowering leadership behaviors, was adopted for this study. A 5-point response scale, where 1= ‘never’ and 5= ‘always’, was used. The model has the following five factors: ‘leading by example’, ‘participative decision making’, ‘coaching’, ‘informing’, and ‘showing concern for/interacting with the team’. The average score of the management team members and the employees (N=39) have been computed and Cronbach’s Coefficient Alpha Reliability overall score for all the factors is significant at 0.96. Self-report ELQ surveys were completed by 11 team heads and their 28 subordinates towards

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their superiors with a total of 39 respondents. Self Esteem. Rosenberg’s Self Esteem Scale (1965) was used to measure the self-esteem level of VIs and HIs. Self Efficacy. Sherer, Maddux, Mercandante, Prentice-Dunn, Jacobs, and Roger’s (1982) general self-efficacy scale to measure job self efficacy was used to measure the self efficacy level of VIs and HIs. Psychological Empowerment. Spreitzer’s (1995) Psychological Empowerment Measurement, which is a 12-item measure empirically validated and contains four dimensions of ‘meaning’, ‘competence’, ‘self determination’ and ‘impact’, was used to measure general employees’ empowerment experience. Organisational Commitment. Allen and Meyer’s (1990) Organisational Commitment Measurement, which is a 24-item measure empirically validated and contains three dimensions of ‘affective, normative and continuance commitment’, was used to measure the level of commitment of general employees at DIDHK.

Informants The first set of interviews occurred by interviewing the 11 Management Team Heads including one then General Manager and other Team Heads. Surveys and the semi-structured interviews were used to explore the leadership dynamics. 5 focus group interviews were conducted with corporate clients consisted of 29 managers of 3 different companies one bank, one hotel and one travel agency - who had attended the corporate executive workshops provided by DIDHK no more than six months ago when they were interviewed. This respondent group helped explore how far the service offering of transformative learning experienced by corporate trainees was able to bring about personal change. Then 9 semistructured interviews were conducted with the visually-impaired and hearing-impaired trainers and 2 focus groups interviews were conducted with 9 employees. These interviews with both employees groups were deployed to examine the transformative effects brought about by the leadership at DIDHK, the general working environment including relationships, culture and employee motivation.

Interviews were taped, transcribed and translated. Each interview was about 45 minutes for employees and about 60-80 minutes for Team Heads. Key for Coding of Respondents appearing on tables and text: • Employees – Emp • Facilitators - Fac • Visually-impaired Trainers – VI • Team Heads – TH

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Results and Analysis The results of the findings and analysis are grouped into two parts – 1) transformative effects of stakeholders (Statistical and textual details are provided in the appendices) and 2) organisational factors at DIDHK that fosters an entrepreneurial and innovative environment (Word search results are provided in the appendices). 1. Transformative Effects on Stakeholders Table 2. Transformative Effects on Stakeholders Stakeholder Groups

Transformative Effects Significant Survey Results in: (see Appendix II) - Self Efficacy - Self Esteem

1. Visually impaired and hearing impaired staff community

Self-Report Enhancement of - Self Concept - Relationship Building - Happiness - Well Being - Trusting Others Significant Survey Results in: (see Appendix II) - Psychological Empowerment - Organisational Commitment

2. Employees

3. Corporate Clients (trainees)

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Self-Report Enhancement of - Self Efficacy - Self Esteem - Self Concept - Relationship Building - Happiness - Trusting Others Change in: (see Appendix III) - Mindset and attitude – breakthroughs - Self Awareness - Listening - Team building awareness - Leadership skills - Trust - Relationship building - Communication - Social cohesion awareness

2. Organisational factors facilitating transformation 2.1. VIs and HIs are at the core of the value chain creation One distinctive characteristic of DIDHK’s business model is that all their service offerings including experiential tours, workshops or corporate workshops, cabaret in silence, dinner in the dark, yum cha in silence are all delivered by the VI and HI trainers. The VI and HI trainers are at the core of service delivery. This creates two levels of social impact because it has two significant implications. First of all, as the product offerings are provided within an ‘environment of constraint’, either darkness or silence, they allow the VI and HI trainers to drive the experiential or training processes in an environment that they are familiar with. As a result, their disabilities are turned into an edge and they find themselves taking a lead in providing an alternative experience for those who are not familiar with this ‘world of constraint’, whether it is darkness or silence. Most VIs and HIs expressed enhancement of their power of expression. Some VI trainers said that they found that their work was meaningful because they could facilitate more people to better understand the world with disabilities. At the same time, as darkness or silence creates a kind of disorientating and disenabling effect, this pushes corporate trainees and participants to walk out from their comfort zone. They experience a journey that can facilitate strong self reflection. There is valid evidence that the clients who have gone through the corporate training in darkness or silence have embarked on a process of transformative learning, triggering their change of attitude and behavior at different levels. Moreover, all the corporate clients expressed that the workshops would not be the same without the presence of the VIs and HIs. Their presence is an inspiration for the clients. The authentic life experiences of the VIs

and HIs in i) overcoming their disabilities and are able to lead a normal life and ii) demonstrating their competence in guiding the trainees in the workshops surprised the clients. Most of the clients mentioned that they would adjust their own attitude towards future adversity in life because they were inspired by the abilities of VIs and HIs in doing so. Moreover, at least half of the interviewed clients mentioned that they started to pay more attention to the people with disabilities in public and check if they would need help. Some of them even started exploring if there were sufficient facilities on the bus or in the public environment for the VI and HI community. 2.2. The practice of empowerment at DIDHK ‘Empowering others can reap an enormous outcome. Only when forerunners are ready to enable and nurture, more people will come out from their comfort zone to lead and take up responsibility beyond their capability. This is the same spirit I have adopted in planning for leadership succession and inviting a new general manager into my team (DIDHK)’ (Cheung, 2011 – a translation from Chinese). One of the DIDHK founders stated his leadership philosophy and orientation in his book entitled ‘Dialogue in the Dark’ in Chinese. According to Spreizer (1995 & 1996) and Conger & Kanungo (1988), empowerment is a process to enhance the performance, selfefficacy and even control of those empowered. Empowerment as a management philosophy of the DIDHK’s founder and a process to nurture within the organisation is intrinsic not just in the social entrepreneur but also in the organization. Empowerment provided by the leadership at DIDHK is built into the different dimensions of the organisation. These include its i) business model, ii) social mission to unleash the potential of those with disabilities and iii) leadership process within the organization.

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Results and Analysis (cont’d) The creation of the open learning space with the provision of experiential experience for participants to walk into an unfamiliar and disorienting environment (of darkness or silence) is a form of empowerment for the clients. Learning how to get along in the dark or silence, deprived of familiarity, is a metaphor for getting along in uncertainty that characterized complexity. With the group work to be performed and achieved, transformative learning is triggered. If achieved, participants may be learning new and transferrable skills. The learning of tackling uncertainty; overcoming it; and the journey of self discovery can empower participants in unique ways for their personal development. Secondly, the employment of VIs and HIs and putting them at the core of the value chain creation in being the service deliverer is an important step in unleashing their potential. Some people with disabilities tend to work in closed-systems (for example doing translation or transcription of audio files) with limited interactions with outsiders, very prescribed roles, relatively stable, homogeneous and in similar or related work roles. VI #3 at DIDHK who is a supervisor described how he spent a long time transcribing audio tapes of research students under tight deadlines before he joined DIDHK. He was secluded from any interaction from the outside world. Although he holds a professional diploma, before he started working for DIDHK, he could not find a job that truly allowed his potential to be developed. The disabilities of the VIs and HIs are turned into abilities in darkness and silence when they act as tour guides or the workshop trainers. The opportunity of being in touch with the general public allows them to be re-integrated into the society. This empowerment comes from the recognition of the competence of those with disabilities. Moreover, some VIs said that they were also happy that they could contribute to the education of the general public about their world. This is important because they do not want to live in their own world and believe that their work at DIDHK can enhance social cohesion within Hong Kong. This kind of civic contribution makes their job more meaningful and purposeful. This is important for

them to rebuild their dignity and role in the society. Moreover, the actual leadership process practiced within DIDHK on a day-to-day basis is also studied. Empowerment, yet, is an endogenous process which is difficult to observe. Therefore a survey was conducted to find out if empowerment was being practiced by the team heads at DIDHK. Selfreported surveys were sent out to all team heads. To gauge the leadership empowerment perceived by general employees and VIs/HIs (social employees), surveys were also sent to these employees. The response rate of team heads was 100% (N=11); while the response rate for VIs/HIs was 40% (those who did not reply were mostly part-time trainers) (N=17) and normal employees were 85% (N=11). Results show that the set of five types of behaviors including 1) leading by example, 2) participative decision making, 3) coaching, 4) informing, and 5) showing concern was all practiced. The significant result illustrated in Appendix 1 shows a combined overall reliability of ᾳ= 0.961. This means that empowerment is perceived to be practiced by the team heads and the employees in the five areas of measure mentioned. There is a culture of flat hierarchy where freedom of expression is respected within DIDHK. Quoting one of the team heads (TH#6), ‘Everyone here can voice their opinions and even disagree with any ideas. This is slightly different from the organization I worked for before. At DIDHK, we would listen to all comments before we make our decision.’ An organization with flat structure allows especially two groups of communities, i) VIs and HIs and ii) junior and young members, who are usually low in the power structure, to feel that their views are respected and they have a good sense of ‘equality’. Employee #5 remarked, ‘We were thrilled when I first joined. Sitting round the table for the weekly meeting were the two founders who are very experienced corporate executives and businessmen. One of the founders even said that they were happy for us to leave DIDHK any time as long as we would take with us our passion we have developed at DIDHK.’ The culture of relatively low power distance allows employees to have a strong sense of ownership in the company.

This is a coefficient of internal consistency. It is commonly used as an estimate of the reliability of a psychometric test. As a rule of thumb, measures require a reliability of 0.70 or higher before they are used as a valid instrument. 1

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A liberal and democratic environment though creating mutual respect will also mount the expectation of employees in the decision making process and being cared for. Especially in DIDHK’s case, most of the employees are relatively young graduates who need both freedom and guidance. Therefore, empowerment though is mostly seen as a good leadership process illustrated by the different level practiced at DIDHK, it can be breeding a liberal culture to an extent that an expectation gap may appear between the employees and the team heads. This can be an interesting management aspect not unique in DIDHK but also in other young, dynamic and creative industry where the staff’s age average is young. Finding a balance between empowerment and control requires much discretion, trust and good company policy for managers not to dampen the bottom-up enthusiasm. At DIDHK, this will be a challenge as the internal staff policy in terms of staff handbook and operation manuals are simple. As they have been growing fast and not all the procedures have been operationalised and systemized. Together with a lean management team, they can face much challenge in retaining staff members in the long run without a long term career staff development structure. This is one area of their weak links which can hinder long term development. 2.3. Staff diversity becomes a form of resource There is much diversity amongst the DIDHK staff members. There are differences in physical abilities, age and background in the social and business sectors. Despite these differences, the diversity becomes a rich resource that creates diverse views and strong awareness to break down differences including language, experience, assumptions and personal views until common value and vision can be shared. The biggest challenge amongst the staff members is communication. The basic issue is the difference in communication methods. When the able staff has to communicate with the HIs, they need to use body language or proper sign language. However, when

the VIs have to communicate with the HIs, they have to rely on a colleague who acts as a translator and messenger. Even when the general staff have to communicate with the VIs, despite the fact that they can hear each other, the VIs cannot detect any body language or facial expression and so, the staff often needs to express more explicitly or need to use ‘touch’ to facilitate the communication with the VIs. However, the communication challenge seems to facilitate extra effort, attention and respect rather than to discourage communication. During a participant observation experience at a management meeting with all the team heads present, the observation notes reflected convergence of interests with everyone ‘going an extra mile’ and ‘making an extra effort’ to communicate. There were VI and HI team heads together with other team heads. A sign language interpreter was present. Moreover, they also worked with a big white board to help put across complex terms and concepts by writing on the board. The diverse physical abilities/ disabilities did not seem to hinder the relations building but it seemed like motivating everyone not to take for granted that meaning would necessarily be received or interpreted in the right way. To some extent, there was a certain level of ‘tolerance of chaos’ with different communication media ranging from voice, sign language to the written form on the board being deployed. However, the CEO always summarized at the end of sessions and ensured the team got a common understanding of the message. The data collection could not confirm that there was an absence of silos at DIDHK. However, the ‘efforts’ of inclusion are definitely present and a transparent culture has been achieved to accommodate the range of abilities working in the organization. DIDHK provides an environment that respects human differences and each player is respected and given the opportunity to speak up. In a system made of players with diverse abilities, background and age, it can either be a ground for conflicts or new ideas, depending on the attitudes adopted by the players. One junior member shared her experience working at DIDHK:

Theory of Change – A Scoping Study | 19

Results and Analysis (cont’d) ‘I first thought this was crazy. Why would directors and big bosses sat amongst us at the same meetings? This company is a place where a lot of opinions can be expressed after I have adapted to this culture. It encourages different people to share different thoughts. Take the example of pursuing a big project. Every one of us can contribute something and the company really welcomes you to make changes on the existing system and execute after you’ve talked about it. Then they will let you go ahead. Yeah, it is really free.’ (Emp#2)

DIDHK has a flat organizational structure that facilitates easy communication and mutual respect

for one another. Despite the differences in many areas, each player at DIDHK finds himself/herself working in a big family.

This kind of congenial

environment allows diversity to bring about multiperspective ideas.

force that motivates individuals of all abilities, ages and experiences.

The sense of purpose and the

common goal together form a powerful magnetic force that organized individuals within the organization and also those outside to interact, seek collaboration

and cooperate. Many respondents, especially the facilitators who were not the employees of the

organization all mentioned how they continuously

shared the social mission and the work of DIDHK to make sure that their circle of friends could learn

about the DIDHK story. One facilitator shared her experience at DIDHK:

‘My experience is very happy and wonderful for we share a common vision. Therefore, no one will judge whether more effort is put on the financial or operational aspects. We all would like to provide a platform for the general public to get to know more

2.4. The common social goal leads to shared value and shared identity

The main reasons for fresh university graduates to join

DIDHK are the novelty of the business model and the

social nature of DIDHK. One of the employees who have been with DIDHK for a few years shared, ‘At

that time DIDHK was very young. There were only 10 people. Therefore the atmosphere at that time

was like a group of foolish people who strived for some goals which seemed great and grand. We all wish to develop and grow DIDHK as an organisation. We all had that common thought and drive.’

about how the visually-impaired and hearing-impaired manage their disabilities. The operation is very smooth with this common goal and everyone is working under this common vision.’

Both the employees inside the organization and

those who collaborate with DIDHK seem to embrace

the shared value and shared identity contributing

to the shaping of public’s perception and raising awareness towards social inclusion.

2.5 Organisational culture facilitates bottom-up enthusiasm

DDIHK’s social mission creates relational cohesion

Personal control is what the organizational culture

remarked during an interview,

asked to describe the organizational culture of DIDHK.

and a unique identity as one of the employees

‘In fact, everyone is on the same boat. We belong to one team. One should trust each other together with that common goal. Trust within us is strong.’ (Emp#5)

The social mission of DIDHK is a powerful unifying

20 | Theory of Change – A Scoping Study

facilitates. During the study, every respondent was Key themes were derived both from the researcher’s memo notes and key word search.


‘support’, ’cooperation’ and ‘freedom’.

Table 3

characteristics include ‘dynamic communication’, contains the evidence of the contextual conditions summarized by key word search.

Table 3. Evidence for the Contextual Conditions Contextual Conditions





VI #3




Emp #1


Emp #2


TH #3


Emp #3



Emp #6



Emp #2



Workshop Facilitator

Exemplary Quotations Another thing is that my most important transformation is that my company (DIDHK) supports me to pursue my dream of establishing a business, an arm of DIDHK. What I appreciate most is not the monetary support from my company, but how my company gives me a lot of time to prove that I have such ability. I think I can apply what I learnt from the Sales and Marketing lessons I took before. I like the free working environment here, I’m free to voice my opinion. People take new ideas as long as they are useful or constructive no matter who raises them. This is so different from other companies outside, I can make the most of myself here. On the other hand, I’m working hard on learning how to enhance my customer service skills. We are free to voice our opinion and my superiors would not force me to follow their ideas every time. I spent more time in communicating with the hearing-impaired . . . facial expression, or body language. Writing is the last thing that I will do. We rode on the mass transit railway together and talked about where we lived. We used our own method to tell each other. They used creative way to let me know where the different places are. For example the “Wong Tai Sin” temple, they pretended they were praying in the temple. It’s graphical. When we do the communication graphically, I suddenly find my sight becomes 3-dimensional, vivid and not flat. And this 3D vision has changed my views in structure and many other different things in life. I have worked under the supervision of several generations of managers. All of them are open to two-way communication. They are willing to share their experience and listen to ours on work and personal issues. Most importantly, they give me constructive advice. No one taught me any skills when I worked in the Government sector. My team culture has a positive attitude towards life. This is a happy and precious thing because everyone in my team is positive. As I work here longer, I start to see things on their positive side. You want to know what other people, colleagues think, even crosssectoral views of colleagues, because there are more and more external cross-sectoral cooperation . Each environment has its uniqueness that we have to adapt to, the views of so many things, practice has been different and changing all the time. Compared to other companies, I think the working atmosphere and relationships between colleagues are good at DID. It’s working, and comparatively friendly. I haven’t seen much the same relationship, .... As for my relationship with most of them, it’s very direct. I give direct feedbacks to most of my DID colleagues, especially VIs, and they would give me feedback too. I think this relationship, like what we describe in the dark workshops, it’s based on respect and trust.

Theory of Change – A Scoping Study | 21

Results and Analysis (cont’d) Organizational culture is a socially constructed product. It reflects the reality of the dynamics amongst members internally. The organized data are almost the thermometer of the energy level and the dynamics within the organization. They reflect the bottom-up energy and enthusiasm amongst different members at DIDHK. Freedom The young graduate employees said that they enjoyed working at DIDHK because of its lack of hierarchy and the open-systems approach allows them to interact with outsiders all the time. They also felt that they could voice their opinions freely and they in turn took interest in coming up with new ideas or shared their own experience in the process of making improvement at work. Support In terms of providing an environment for the bottom-up dynamics to appear, a VI trainer had recently been encouraged to pursue his intrapreneurship dream of developing a premium product business carrying the DIDHK label. Instead of selling the patent license to this VI trainer, the company decided to provide both financial support and advisory to work closely with him until the business would take off and be financially viable. This was the second incubation effort at DIDHK with the Dialogue in Silence business arm having been founded and put on its stable track. The culture of accepting failures or mistakes also impressed employees. ‘People are so supportive and understanding. We can also voice our opinion freely, just like a family. (Emp #2)’ Cooperation As the company grew and more external collaborative projects arose, different teams became more adaptive to work with different

22 | Theory of Change – A Scoping Study

parties and different context. The problemsolving mode became a competence that they continually sharpened to deliver the results of workshops and events expected by clients. TH #10 described the satisfaction he obtained from creating the event ‘Concert in the Dark’ out of prior reference, ‘Since we have no reference . . . different people are responsible for different parts, like public relations and singing. We have to cooperate with each other. But it was quite a success. Honestly, we never expected that customers would like our concert so much.’ This reflected a bottom-up synchronization that eventually brought together innovation and a positive result. Communication At DIDHK, a constant scene was recorded with the VIs, HIs and the able staff members congregating in a circle with body language and other members listening intensely for communication to be put across within the group. Communication at DIDHK has a very symbolic meaning of embracing equality. VIs and HIs do not feel that they are marginalized as the interactions are mutual or everybody makes an effort to foster equal interactions as far as they can. The extra effort embodies skills, respect and regards for others, thus forming a culture that is open and interactive. Validating this kind of direct communication was the remark of Emp #2, ‘Most people in other companies communicate by sending emails but we tend to communicate by talking over the phone or faceto-face. This way of communication is more instant and avoids the transfer of unnecessary information.’ The supportive, positive and cooperative culture at DIDHK has built trust and appreciation amongst members of staff with different abilities. This might explain the reason for other factors including learning environment, personal transformation and innovation to take place.

2.6 DIDHK as a discovering and learning organisation

of improvisational sparks necessary for igniting

‘I have been acquiring new skills and learning

well positioned to be highly innovative and to deal

step by step here, for example skills in managing

manpower and venue. I have never been in charge

of the operation function before. I think that this is beneficial for my future career pursuit as the broader variety of skills I have, the better I’m equipped.’ (Emp #3)

DIDHK was considered by many employees as a learning organization. The word ‘learning’ got 147 text search results amongst all the interview data. As the organization is an experiential learning provider, staff members appreciate the importance of reflective learning, reflective listening and casting away one’s assumptions in learning to work with people. A number of the staff have been motivated to learn sign language. Moreover, it is DIDHK’s internal culture to enhance processes and extend product offerings. So their weekly management or departmental meetings would provide room for listening to new ideas, according to one of their founders. Brown and Duguid (1991) discussed how working, learning and innovation were closely related because these forms of human activities enhance human interaction which stimulates new concepts through community building. They described the perfect environment for the development of innovation: ‘Within an organization perceived as a collective

of communities, not simply of individuals, in which







legitimate, can


amplified by interchanges among communities.

Out of this friction of competing ideas can come interchanges among communities.

Out of this

friction of competing ideas can come the sort

organizational innovation. reflectively structured

. . . organizations,

are perhaps particularly

with discontinuities. If their internal communities have a reasonable degree of autonomy and

independence from the dominant world view,

large organizations might actually accelerate innovation.’ (Brown & Duguid, 1991: 54)

DIDHK manifests some of these characteristics including autonomy, independence, closelyknitted staff community and strong awareness of reflection. Moreover, other than the common social goal, they hold a common understanding that the experiences that they create must be fun and entertaining. ‘Honestly, if something is meaningful but not fun, staff will not be motivated to deliver that because

it’s boring, so both are important. If you ask me if I think being playful is important, the answer is

yes because if it’s only meaningful, customers will only treat their experience as a single donation.

But if it’s fun, they will come back, that’s why DID grows so fast. Indeed there are lots of meaningful events outside, but they are quite boring. But if you wish to run it as a business, having fun must

be the priority. And different people can gain different things. So to me, delivering fun is the most important.’ (TH#10)

TH#10, being a team head of the Education Team with all the VIs being part of that team, understands that the importance of running DIDHK is not about asking for charity donation but it is offering a professional service in order to achieve sustainability of the organization and avoid ‘discontinuities’. Going beyond sympathy-seeking brings about a result of continuous search for innovative and entertaining product offerings that they can surprise clients. Moreover, the innovative process is not confined within the company.

Theory of Change – A Scoping Study | 23

Results and Analysis (cont’d) 2.7 DIDHK continuously looks for collaboration opportunities DIDHK has attracted not only customers but also collaboration partners. As DIDHK tried to explore new products, they could be lacking sufficient financial funding. Their first successful collaboration opportunity was to find a sponsor for their ‘Concert in Dark’ idea which was launched as the first event of its kind in Hong Kong in 2011. They also solicited pop singers and musicians to participate either taking low fees or without charge. As their solicitation was on the road to success, the internal teams were motivated to pour in their time and efforts to make sure that the event could be delivered successfully and safely. It was well received in the first year and the event has become an annual event which has been held over the last three years. Opportunity like this has proven to be the best fuel for innovation and staff morale. Moreover, DIDHK’s ability to work with the professional entertainment industry also established itself as a professional business collaborator who is innovative and has earned a lot of trust. The organisation started to stimulate people to want to learn more about social enterprises and the building of social capital also began with more collaborative opportunities emerging. ‘Concert in the Dark’ got an Innovation Award in 2012 and DIDHK was also awarded as an outstanding social enterprise. External collaborative opportunities are another avenue for the organization to engage in creativity and innovation. Another collaboration project took place at the end of 2013 when DIDHK partnered with a commercial radio station in launching a dating initiative.

24 | Theory of Change – A Scoping Study

DIDHK has embarked on turning the organization into an organization that offers ‘experiences’ rather than just workshops and tours. In their process of ensuring survival, sustainability and growth, DIDHK is strongly aware that they have to improve and co-evolve not only internally but with collaborative partners. Much as they seek ‘frame breaking’ initiatives, DIDHK insists in the principle of putting the VIs or HIs or people with disabilities at the core of their service delivery. This is their adherence to the social mission but at the same being able to adapt, self-organise and co-evolve. Much as the favourable contextual factors have been identified at DIDHK, each organization has its limitations. In fact, some of DIDHK’s current weak links can impose barrier to long term development. Lean Management at DIDHK and possible staff burnout The company has been adopting a lean management approach. Staff members were obtaining a slightly lower than market rate remuneration between the years 2010 to 2012. The situation has been improved entering 2013. All employees outside the Management Team have been benchmarked with the market rate to allow themselves to be more competitive in retaining staff. However, with the growing sales volume and new initiatives, the existing operations, sales and administrative functions are stretching thin. Some team members have cross-functional job duties with limited administrative support. The lean management creates knock-on effects including staff burnt-out for the sales and administrative staff.

Corporate Sales Growth demands more VI and HI Trainers Corporate training is demanding quality VIs with good English skills because of the training needs coming from multi-national companies. However, the bottleneck of the lack of supply of quality VIs and HIs exists. This is mainly restricted by the Hong Kong education system that has limited ‘special need’ education curriculum for HIs and VIs to thrive. The pool of VIs and HIs with suitable English skills and broad based knowledge are very limited. It has been difficult to recruit quality VIs that can speak both English and Chinese fluently. Therefore, DIDHK are exploring the possibility of looking for recruits from outside Hong Kong. Need for providing career prospect for young dynamic university graduates The company has been spending a lot of efforts on product development and not being fast enough in talent and system building. As a result, their talent development and human resources management are areas that have not been given enough attention. The lack of career prospect and career ladder for young university graduates will eventually drive them towards organizations that are better structured if not only for better pay.

Limited training budget for staff enhancement As the company gets more interests and higher expectation from the external environment, the staff members including VIs, HIs and general staff members find themselves limited by their horizon and skill sets, such as sign language and English skills to develop new product offerings. The company needs to develop a training plan and expand their training budget so that their staff members can prepare for imminent and long term growth. Systematic customer service evaluation can bring product enhancement DIDHK’s corporate workshops are getting more corporate buy-in. Therefore, the potential market is growing. However, DIDHK faces two areas of constraint to capture the market growth. One has been mentioned in terms of the lack of VIs and HIs who have good English skills and broader education level for providing more advanced training sessions. Secondly, the existing post service evaluation needs enhancement for new product creation or quality product enhancement. The current evaluation tool can find out immediate issues but the simple evaluation data are not sufficient to prepare them for more sophisticated product enhancement. However, with the rising expectation and demand, their research arm needs to be strengthened to cater for long term development.

Theory of Change – A Scoping Study | 25






What is put into the venture

Venture’s primary activities

Result that can be measured

Changes to social systems

Activity and goal adjustment


What would have happened anyway


Figure 1 Impact Value Chain

Own illustration based on the Impact Value Chain in ‘The Double Bottom Line Catalogue’, Rosenzweign, Long, and Olsen and The Rockefeller Foundation (2004)

This scoping study aims at identifying the theory of change found at DIDHK at a micro level amongst individuals of three stakeholder groups. There are significant and valid transformative effects found in each of the stakeholder groups showing the social impact of transformative effects resulted in different activities taking place at DIDHK. These include i) experiential training for clients; ii) delivering experiential journeys by VI and HK trainers and iii) working for DIDHK as a social enterprise for employees. In view of the results of this study, there are three areas of recommendation for DIDHK to consider. This study only covers the social impact achieved at the micro level of DIDHK’s key stakeholders. It is recommended that DIDHK can explore the macro level of social cohesion achieved amongst different communities and the meso level of collaborative learning achieved amongst other organizations who partner with DIDHK. As DIDHK adopts a unique business model placing the VIs and HIs as the core service producers, the social value would not be fully understood without further studying the impact being created at different levels. Secondly, in order for DIDHK to understand its social impact value chain with a complete

26 | Theory of Change – A Scoping Study

picture, the organization can consider to construct it using a system perspective. The Impact Value Chain created by Rosenzweign, Long and Olsen (2004) can be used as a reference so that they have a better picture of the ‘implementation theory’ (Weiss, 1995). Please see Figure 1 above. From the perspective of impact investors, an Impact Value Chain model (Clark, Rosenzweig, Long, and Olsen, 2004) was created to help distinguish the key differences between measuring 1) performance (monitoring processes via input, activities, and output; 2) outcomes (short-term results and effects on beneficiaries) and 3) impact (long-term results and systematic changes that are attributable to a social venture’s activities/interventions). Therefore, similar concept can be adopted to lay out the processes and components from a system perspective and in an explicit manner for the effective evaluation of the outcomes. Thirdly, DIDHK wants to consider carefully who is using the evaluation and the steps to be taken after the evaluation. There are many reasons for conducting social impact evaluation. Raising the transparency of the organization is essential. However, evaluation can be a costly exercise. Therefore, maximum use of the data will be most cost effective. Another use will be for performance enhancement. If for this reason, sufficient resource and planning including both the evaluator and the management team want to be involved to ensure that the evaluation efforts will not be wasted and follow-up action will take place.

References Allen, N. J., and Meyer, J. P. 1990. The measurement and antecedents of affective, continuance and normative commitment to the organization. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 63,1-18. Arnold, J., Arad, S., Rhoades, J., & Drasgow, F. 2000. The empowering leadership questionnaire: the construction and validation of a new scale for measuring leader behaviors. Journal of Organisational Behaviour, 21, 249-269. Brown, J. S., and Duguid, P. 1991. Organisational Learning and Communities-of-Practice: Toward a Unified View of Working, Learning, and Innovation. Organisation Science (2) 1:40-57 Chen & Rossi, 1989; Chen, 1990; Connell, Kubisch, Schorr & Weiss, 1995; Weiss, 1995, 1997,2000; Schorr, 1997; Pawson & Tilley, 1997; Stame, 2004; Douthwaite et al, 2003; Donaldson, 2005; and Rogers, 2008 Chen, H., and Rossi, P. 1989. Issues in the Theory-driven Perspective. Evaluation and Program Planning (12) 4:299-306. Chen, H. 1990. Theory-driven evaluation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Cheung, W. L. 2011. Dialogue in the Dark. (in Chinese) Conger, J. & Kanungo, R. 1988. The Empowerment Process: Integrating Theory and Practice. Academy of Management Review, 13, 471-482. Connell, J. P., and Kubisch, A. 1998. Applying a Theory of Change Approach to the Evaluation of Comprehensive Community Initiative in Connell, J. P., Kubisch, A., Schorr, L., and Weiss, C. (eds) New Approaches to Evaluating Community Initiatives, vol 1. Washington, DC: The Aspen Institute. Donaldson, S. 2005. Using Program Theory-Driven Evaluation Science to Crack Da Vinci Code. In Alkin, M. C., and Christie C. A. (eds) Theorists’ Models in Action, New Directions in Evaluation, 106:65-84 Douwaite, B. R., Delve, J., Ekboir, L., and Twomlow, S. 2003. Contending with Complexity: The Role of Evaluation in Implementing Sustainable Natural Resource Management. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 1(1): 51-66 Mawson, A. 2008. The Social Entrepreneur Making Communities Work. London: Atlantis Books. Pawson, R., and Tilley, N. 1997. Realistic Evaluation. London: SAGE Rogers, P. 2008. Using Programme Theory to Evaluate Complicated and Complex Aspects of Interventions. Evaluation (14) 1:29-48. Rosenberg, M. 1965. Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Schorr, L. 1997. Common Purpose: Strengthening Families and Neighborhoods to Rebuild America. New York: Anchor Books Doubleday. Sherer, M., Maddux, J. E., Mercandante, B., Prentice-Dunn, S., Jacobs, B., and Rogers R. W. 1982. The Self Efficacy Scale: Construction and Validation. Psychological Reports, 51, 663-671. Spreitzer, G. 1995. Psychological Empowerment in the Workplace: Dimensions, Measurement, and Validation. Academy of Management Journal, 38, 1442-1465. Spreitzer, G. 1996. Social Structural Characteristics of Psychological Empowerment. Academy of Management Journal, 39, 483-504. Stame, N. 2004. Theory-based Evaluation and Types of Complexity. Evaluation (10) 1: 58-76. Uhl-bien, M. and Marion R. 2008. Complexity Leadership. US:IAP Weiss, C. 1995. Nothing as Practical as Good Theory: Exploring Theory-based Evaluation for Comprehensive Community Initiatives for Children and Families in Connell, J. P., Kubisch, A., Schorr, L., and Weiss, C. (eds) New Approaches to Evaluating Community Initiatives, vol 1. Washington, DC: The Aspen Institute. Weiss, C. 1997. Theory-based Evaluation: Past, Present and Future. In Rog, D. J. (ed) Progress and Future Directions in Evaluation, New Directions for Evaluation, 76. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Weiss, C. 2000. Which Links in Which Theories Shall We Evaluate? In Rogers, P. J., Hacsi, T., Petrosino, A., and Huebner, T. A. (eds) Program Theory in Evaluation: Challenges and Opportunities, New Directions for Evaluation, 87. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Theory of Change – A Scoping Study | 27

Appendices Appendix I – Statistical Results for Empowering Leadership Surveys conducted with Team Heads and Employees Means

Standard Diviation


Leading by example




Participative in decision-making












Showing concerns









Appendix II – Statistical Results for Surveys conducted with VIs and HIs and Surveys conducted with Employees Self Efficacy and Self Esteem of VIs and His The self efficacy and self esteem levels of VIs and His show significance in the results. Means

Standard Diviation











Psychological Empowerment and Organisational Commitment of Employees The psychological empowerment and organizational commitment levels of employees show significance in the results. Means

Standard Diviation


Psychological empowerment




Affective commitment




Normative commitment




Continuous commitment





This is a coefficient of internal consistency. It is commonly used as an estimate of the reliability of a psychometric test. As a rule of thumb, measures require a reliability of 0.70 or higher before they are used as a valid instrument. 2

28 | Theory of Change – A Scoping Study

Appendix III - Personal Transformation of Corporate Trainees (Micro-level) The major themes of trainees’ learning outcomes, which were reflected and put in their workplace or daily life after participating in the corporate executive workshops, are identified. They are listed out and supported with respondents’ quotations as follows: a) Mindset and Attitude A Human Resource head, HR#1 observed a more positive change in employees’ mindsets and attitudes towards life and work, and nine corporate employees agreed. Two respondents expressed that in the dispirited work environment where workload and stress were increasing, the recall of the visually impaired trainers’ success in overcoming difficulties in life and their enthusiasm towards it had influenced and inspired them to become ‘better’ and more positive people. A few respondents learnt to view things from optimistic angles instead of passive ones, not to complain on everything but to cherish what they already had. Respondents#10 and #22 noticed that sight and impression could sometimes be inaccurate; solely by listening, one learnt more – in darkness one could listen to many things, feel a speaker’s personality and attitude to people, and even visualise what he or she was going through. b) Listening According to HR#1, employees had heightened their awareness in listening to messages sent by people around them, especially when they were facing challenges. HR#8 recalled that two of her colleagues tried out a new attempt, which was previously stated in their action plans during a mini-reunion, to listen to others first before giving comments. This was congruent with Respondent#22’s learning: “I used to interrupt people’s speech. Now I give comments only when the others have finished speaking. I

show concerns towards their feelings before responding. Since DID workshop, I have been conscious not to let my words hurt or make people feel uncomfortable. I have a closer relationship with my family members.” c) Team Building Eight respondents mentioned their learning in team building. From a puzzle task, Respondent#1 realized that every person and every step could contribute to the completion of tasks. Yet, a single inconspicuous thing could easily turn results upside-down. Applying this back to work, he learnt to value colleagues of different positions, look into every detail and not to overlook any problem. Two respondents said they tried to take the initiative to help colleagues when they encountered problems. In the past they used to keep silent, showing an indifferent attitude and focused only on their own work. Respondents#26 and #29 even took a step forward: they started swapping tasks among team members. The rationale was to learn the proper procedures and understand the difficulties of different tasks including those of others, so when a colleague was not available to do his or her work due to sickness, others could help out on an ad hoc basis. Two respondents believed that this could foster team building. In fact, HR#3 observed an overall higher team spirit in the company. d) Leadership Skills Five supervisory level respondents showed changes in their leadership styles. It was their usual practice to appoint tasks and list all the related procedures for their subordinates. Yet, the respondents noticed that this placed an extremely heavy burden on them, while their subordinates became their assistants but not colleagues. Therefore, they started decentralizing their tasks and adopting delegation, allowing subordinates to make decisions in less risky tasks without the need to seek their approval. Then the supervisors would back up and monitor them behind the scene.

Theory of Change – A Scoping Study | 29



HR#8 pointed out that since some subordinates were empowered by their supervisors, they no longer perceived themselves as ‘small potatoes’ (i.e., inferior/insignificant) and became better team players by expressing their opinions actively. HR#1 saw an overall leadership enhancement due to the improvement in communication, as supervisors gave clearer instructions which led to increased willingness of their subordinates to listen and follow. e) Trust A few respondents recalled trust as an essential element of co-operation in the DIDHK workshop. During the workshop, all team members were asked to tackle one task each time. This reminded Respondent#10 that he and his team mates were on the same side with the same goal in mind and that there should be trust among members. Applying this back to his work, he found his trust in other team members increased. Another respondent added that even though team members were holding roles different from his, he should trust them. Respondent #21 also commented: “I was independent and always wanted to handle things by myself. Inside the darkroom, I understood that I could not do everything just by myself and was forced to seek help. Now I have learned to open my heart to trust and rely on other people.” f) Breakthrough in mindset Almost all of the respondents experienced a breakthrough of mindset regarding their perception towards the ability of the visually impaired. In their traditional mindset, the visually impaired were the weaker ones who needed help and had poorer vision than the able individuals due to loss of eyesight. Trainees were shocked when both parties met in the

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lit room where they discovered that this was totally not the case. Most respondents admitted that the visually impaired at DIDHK actually had deeper insights and could perform with competence, meanwhile, they were the ones in complete blindness because they could not perceive situations and listen to one another with empathy and the same concentration. Though lacking concrete examples, some respondents said they were aware of the problems brought by prior assumptions in minds. A puzzle task inspired Respondent #25: “When we figured out there was a problem in the puzzle arrangement, it was about time to present our results. As a leader, I presented our work and expectedly the arrangement was wrong. The trainer asked me for my reason of not requesting extra time to make the puzzle ready. Up until then, I realized that I could actually try to request adjustment on the socalled rules”. Importance of communication was better recognised. With regard to this theme, HR#8 observed that in recent meetings, some colleagues were conscious about the unnecessary restrictions imposed on them and had tried to think outside the box. g) Self-Awareness About half of the respondents found that the workshop had heightened their self-awareness. They were able to understand and make selfreflection on personal strengths and weaknesses, potential and emotions. Respondent#11 figured out she was actually afraid of darkness, yet before she thought she wasn’t. Respondent#12 had an opposite discovery – she was not afraid even though the room was darker than her expectation. She never imagined she could be this strong.

Both Respondents#26 and #21 said that before the task, they were very confident about their ability to express. However, they suffered setbacks when their team mates misunderstood their instructions and showed confusion over their commands during the workshop. Thereafter, they made attempts to speak in a concrete and specific manner and abandoned the use of some common phrases which conveyed only vague meanings. One of the respondents said the ability of the visually impaired revealed that we could have unlimited potential, and he had not fully utilized his body and brain. Another respondent discovered that every colleague had his or her own strengths and weaknesses. Hence, he should try his best to magnify the former and minimise the latter. Despite all the positive comments, Respondent#16 believed that he would not be able to overcome difficulties faced by the visually impaired if he were in the same position h) Relationships Several respondents had seen an improvement in their relationships with family and subordinates. Respondent #1 shared an incident: “Yesterday, I was having an argument with one of my family members, I was extremely angry and made an objection on the matter. I calmed myself down afterwards and analyzed from his perspective… we discussed and at last I approved his way of doing things. I feel that our relationship has improved”. HR#8’s reported that one of her colleagues invited his supervisor to discuss with him how to improve the communication between them, and the human resources manager received comments from the colleague that his relationship with the supervisor improved thereafter. i) Communication It appeared that all the respondents had

made reflection and changes relating to communication. In the workshop, they understood the importance of communication and that it formed the basis of many other themes, such as team building and delegation of work. Nine respondents showed empathy in life and work for other people. They learnt to think from others’ perspectives before starting a conversation or co-operating with them. Nine respondents stated that they tried to improve the accuracy of message transfer. They started using different angles and methods to explain things and to repeat patiently until their listeners fully understood the messages. Among them, two altered their speaking styles (eg., speed and organization) to ensure people were following their ideas. One respondent said he became more willing to communicate with others. Two-way communication was another critical learning for respondents. Respondent#3 considered one-way conversation a command rather than communication. A few respondents said that apart from distributing tasks, they would include the rationale behind and asked for comments from subordinates who appeared to be more willing to perform tasks with fewer grumbles. HR#9 also observed employees making direct communication (i.e., telephone conversation) more frequently. j) Awareness of the Disabled and Social Cohesion Several respondents displayed an increase in their awareness of the visually impaired in society. They kept an eye on the visually impaired on a street if they would come across any to make sure that they would not stumble over or bump into objects on streets. Respondents #1 and #18 even helped them to cross the road, bypass a construction site and walk down the stairs, etc. Respondent#13 became interested in observing how public facilities, for instance lift designs, caused help the disabled.

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Appendix IV – Word Search Result and Observation Notes of Key Themes

Details on Data Sources Topic

Word Search Results



Free expression












32 | Theory of Change – A Scoping Study

Observations The ‘Dialogue Experience Square’ of DIDHK is occupying a second location where they are part of a hub, the Good Lab, for new start-ups to use the space as work space. The environment is an open space office with many benches around, a big pantry area over 1,000 sq ft. for free interaction and discussion. The physical setup conveys openness, collaboration, support, and dynamic interactions. Staff members are seen to be in constant and free interaction in the open space. 70% of the staff members are young school/university graduates who interact with sincerity and are encouraged to voice their opinions. Use of sign language and verbal translation to the visuallyimpaired when the hearing-impaired are interacting with the visually-impaired with the presence of employees who facilitate the complex communication processes. More staff members learn sign language to facilitate free communication with the HIs. Despite the young age of most of the employees, they convey a positive attitude in their interaction, usually cheerful and supportive. Observed a constant scene when the visually-impaired employees are guided by colleagues in terms of moving around in the lobby or eating together at events. All the Team Heads do not have separate offices nor even individual desks. They sit together with their team members without any status or preferential treatment. Colleagues have free interaction at the lobby area with the visually-impaired and hearing-impaired integrating and interacting without segregation because colleagues are eager to communicate with them using sign language.

Details on Data Sources Topic

Word Search Results

Social Mission










Observations DIDHK is registered as a ‘limited company’ instead of a nonprofit organization. However, they put aside 30% of their profit as a fund for investment for those who are physically challenged. They employ and put the Vis and His at the heart of their value chain and business model. Sitting through debriefings of corporate workshops, the self reflection of participants was activated. They talked about how the workshops triggered their self awareness and limitation. Observed at workshops and witnessed action learning as a core strategy for adult learning. Experience is the value proposition of the social enterprise and each product aims at giving either a learning or entertaining experience to foster human interaction, learning, and fun.


Within 4 years, DIDHK have collaborated and gained support from different corporations including the landlord who provides the rent-free arrangement, the mobile operator who sponsored ‘Concert in the Dark’, the bag accessories company who arranged co-branding products; the radio station that collaborated to provide an event about dating; and the cable operator who will allocate a permanent site for a new ecotourist action experience to be launched in 2014.


Each new product launched whether in darkness or in silence is an innovation. So far DIDHK has launched more than one new product, either in the form of events or education workshops every year.

Theory of Change – A Scoping Study | 33

About Author Susanna Chui is currently a PhD candidate in Leadership at Durham University in the United Kingdom. Before that, Susanna lectured at the Department of Management of Hong Kong Baptist University in Corporate Social Responsibility, Leadership, Business Communication and Organisational Behaviour. Her research interests include leadership, social impact of social enterprises and corporate social responsibility. Susanna has completed her Master of Research Degree in Leadership with University of Exeter (UK). Her first Master Degree in Mass Communications Research was obtained from University of Leicester (UK) and Susanna holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from University of York (UK).

About CHRSD The Centre for Human Resources Strategy and Development (CHRSD) of School of Business of Hong Kong Baptist University (人力資源策略及發展研究中心) is a premier institute in Greater China building excellence in research and education in order to enhance the quality of human capital in the region. Members of the Centre conduct research relevant to human resources management in Greater China and offer HRM-related consulting services. Since its establishment in 2006, the CHRSD has been able to organize and conduct a wide range of activities and services which are tailored to address the needs of the academic community, the business sector and the general public at large through our in-house Consultancy and Training, Professional Development Seminars, Conference and Policy Research activities. Through our in-house consultancy and training projects, our faculty members are able to have direct communication with the HR practitioners and provide our professional advice tailored to their organization’s needs and concerns. CHRSD provides consulting services in a number of areas, among them, they are organization development, labour relations, performance management, and executive coaching. Seminars and workshops are conducted which aim to provide a platform for the general public to enhance their knowledge on current human resources issues. In 2006-2014, a good number of public forums and seminars related to best HR practices, such as work-life balance, family friendly employment and minimum wage ordinance, has been delivered and the Pay Level Survey for Hong Kong and mainland China is conducted annually (in collaboration with the Hong Kong People Management Association) since 2008, which allow human resource professionals to have the most updated information on salary trends.

34 | Theory of Change – A Scoping Study

DID HK LIMITED Theory of Change (March 2014)  

A Scoping Study by Susanna Chui, Centre for Human Resources Strategy and Development, Hong Kong Baptist University

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